It was love at first sight for Kayleigh and Leia — or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say love at first peck.
Kayleigh visited Petco one afternoon in between her shifts at work. It just so happened to be an adoption day, and Kayleigh hoped to find a cat who could accompany her to her new apartment — even though that was a month off.
She approached one cage that contained three cats and stuck a finger in the cage to try to pet them.
“That’s when a petite torti started to lick my finger, well, tried to anyways. I was confused at first because she was almost pecking at my finger. I knew I wanted her,” Kayleigh said.
She spoke to a woman from the shelter, who told her the kitten was a special needs cat with balance issues. That didn’t bother Kayleigh at all, and in a few weeks once Kayleigh had moved into her new home, the kitten, Leia, came too.
“She was purring non-stop, and I knew I found my purrfect cat!”
Leia, who was about a year and a half old in March, has moderate CH. Kayleigh says being surrounded by another cat without her condition motivates her to work on her walking and climbing.
When it comes to the litter box, Leia is perfectly capable. She can use one with a hood and has a second without one — but if she uses it, she may make a big mess if she loses her balance and falls, which can lead to litter being flung everywhere.
When she eats, she uses her paw as a scoop to fling food onto the floor where she can peck at it. Drinking is no different than other cat, she’s just a little loud! To help her, Kayleigh bought elevated bowls. Kayleigh also owns a platform bed so Leia doesn’t fall far when she accidentally rolls off.
Recently, Leia conquered her fear of falling down stairs by surprising Kayleigh in the basement one day! It went so smoothly, Kayleigh didn’t even hear her wobble her way down!
Kayleigh and Leia have a special connection — it’s almost like Leia has a sixth sense when it comes to what her mom needs. If she’s sick or sad, Leia is right there by her side.
Kayleigh’s advice to other CH parents? “Although your cat’s movements may be different from some other cats, it is only a reason to love them more. I’ve had “normal” cats my whole life, but they’ve never loved me like my CH baby does. They seem to be extra attached and loving. Also, they’re less likely to be naughty!
“One thing people need to know about CH is that cats who have this problem are not ‘retarded’ or ‘brain dead,’ but mostly unbalanced. They are like any other cat, but walk a little funny! Please, don’t be scared of it. Your cat won’t catch it and it doesn’t hinder their ability to live.”
Kayleigh‘s favorite thing about Leia’s CH is that it helps her to not get into or jump onto things and be naughty! It also seems like Leia is a more attached cat. Kayleigh’s least favorite thing is seeing her take a nasty spill or the people who constantly make fun of Leia. Some have gone so far as to make mean videos or songs about her.
“My journey so far with Leia has been easy as far as caring for her. It’s my peers who have made anything in her life difficult. I am now known as the “crazy cat lady” because I love Leia like a child and will stand up for her when someone down-talks her. I even had to kick my roommates out due to their lack of understanding her and making fun of her.
“There has been more positive than negative regarding my decision to adopt her though. I constantly have people telling me how awesome I am for adopting a special needs cat. If you’re debating on it at all, I encourage you to adopt a cat with CH. It has changed my views on cats entirely because of how different she is in such a positive matter. If I were to adopt another cat, I would seek to adopt another cat with CH.”